Cymbalta is used to treat various conditions, including depression and anxiety. Since it is a potent medication, it can have serious adverse effects when mixed with alcohol.
If you’re on Cymbalta or any medication, it is important to be aware of the potential interactions, side effects, and risks involved when used with alcohol. Additionally, if you or a loved one is habitually mixing Cymbalta with alcohol or other substances, it is strongly advised to consider speaking to an experienced addiction specialist that can help you overcome the dependence.
The main purpose of taking medications or using alcohol is to experience some sort of relief. By defining the reasons why you’re seeking relief with Cymbalta and alcohol, you’ll build a foundation that will help your doctor create a mental health program tailored for you.
Cymbalta is also known by its generic name, duloxetine. It is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) and acts to enhance the action of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin.
SNRIs alleviate depression by altering chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) used to transfer information between brain cells. Like most antidepressants, SNRIs create changes in brain chemistry and alter the communication between brain and nerve cells to regulate a person’s mood and relieve the symptoms of depression.
Cymbalta is used to treat many conditions, including:
- Chronic musculoskeletal pain
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
- Stress-related urinary incontinence
The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that, when mixed with alcohol or other substances, Cymbalta can have dangerous physiological effects that can even lead to death. When taken on their own, both Cymbalta and alcohol can lead to liver damage and depression.
Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Cymbalta, instructs that the drug does not increase the impairment of mental or motor skills that is caused by alcohol consumption. However, other dangers of this combination still stand.
Effects of Mixing Cymbalta With Alcohol
Experts at the Mayo Clinic state that it is best to avoid combining any antidepressant and alcohol and advises not to stop taking your antidepressants just so that you can drink.
Increased Potential For Creating Liver Damage
One of the main reasons that it’s not a good choice to mix Cymbalta and alcohol is because of the increased potential for creating liver damage. Cymbalta on its own has the risk of causing liver damage. However, this risk is greatly increased when it is mixed with alcohol. The combination of the two substances simply overloads the liver.
The highest risk of liver damage happens with people who habitually consume three or more drinks of alcohol per day. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), people who have a history of liver damage or those who drink alcohol frequently should not be prescribed Cymbalta.
Other medications or therapies are recommended for such patients. This is why it is important to fully disclose your private habits with your physician.
Increased Risk of Suicide and Depression
In addition to the increased risk of liver damage that occurs when it’s mixed with alcohol, Cymbalta can make symptoms of depression and other mental conditions worse. This is particularly true over time.
Alcohol can alter the way the body uses Cymbalta and can change the brain’s chemistry, causing an increase in depression, which creates a greater risk for suicidal tendencies. It is advised to consult your physician if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression so that they can consider if you should be prescribed a different medication or if you should reduce or eliminate your drinking.
Increased Potency of Both Substances
Drinking alcohol while on Cymbalta therapy causes each substance to become more potent. Both substances have similar effects on the brain’s chemistry. When mixed, you may experience a worsening of the side effects that you would normally experience when taking each substance separately.
Interference With Treatment Protocols
The FDA reports that alcohol has depressive effects on the nervous system and can interfere with the positive effects Cymbalta has on the brain, thus making treatment less effective.
Consuming alcohol while on Cymbalta can interrupt the progress of the treatment and can cause mood-related symptoms. It is best that alcohol is not used while trying to achieve mental health and balance.
There is no evidence that suggests that regular consumption of alcohol has a positive effect on people who are trying to overcome anxiety or depression.
Cymbalta Used for Alcohol Withdrawal
Some patients take Cymbalta to help them alleviate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. While some people think that Cymbalta helps relieve anxiety and other symptoms experienced during alcohol withdrawal, it can still cause dangerous effects even after alcohol use has stopped.
Cymbalta is not currently among the FDA-approved drugs used to treat alcohol withdrawal. If you are experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, it is best to consult your physician before deciding on your own to use Cymbalta to deal with your unique challenge.
Never self-prescribe any medication to deal with alcohol withdrawal. It is advised to consult your physician for the most appropriate treatment protocol in an alcohol rehab program.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be treated in various ways, and the best way to address your specific set of circumstances will be decided by your medical team.
What Are the Symptoms of Liver Damage?
Your liver’s main function is to break down the compounds or substances that you consume and remove the waste and toxins from your body. If you drink too much alcohol or take too many drugs, your liver has a hard time keeping up with the toxic contents. As your liver tries to remove these toxins from your system, it can reach a point of exhaustion and begin to malfunction.
Similar to alcohol, Cymbalta also requires that the liver break it down. Once your body has processed the helpful elements of Cymbalta, the liver will eliminate the waste material. Since liver damage can also be caused by the use of this drug alone, combining it with alcohol overworks the liver and increases the potential for tissue damage.
According to the CDC, the safe allowance for alcohol consumption depends on the person’s weight, age, and gender. However, as a general rule of thumb, heavy drinking is considered to be three or more alcoholic beverages per day.
If you fall into this category, it is advised that you consider treatment for excessive alcohol use. Otherwise, if you feel you’re not having problems with the amount of alcohol you consume, speak to your physician regarding the amount of alcohol that you actually can drink while you’re on a Cymbalta regimen.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, these are some of the symptoms of liver damage:
- Dark or amber-colored urine
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes, otherwise known as jaundice
- Pain or tenderness in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen where the liver is located
- Spongy or pale stools
- Nausea or upset stomach
- Itchy skin
If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Cymbalta, you should seek immediate medical attention. If left untreated, these symptoms can evolve into serious conditions, including liver failure, an emergency that can be potentially lethal.
Expect These Assessment Questions From Your Physician
Your health care team is dedicated to your well-being, and their primary concern is in helping you feel completely comfortable. Your physician may need to discuss the following questions to properly assess your unique scenario:
- Is there a history of liver disease with you or your family?
- Are you taking Cymbalta for depression or other mental conditions?
- Is there a history of alcohol or substance use disorder in your family?
After discussing these answers with you, your physician should have a better idea of how taking Cymbalta may affect your alcohol use. It is key to work closely with your medical team and follow recommendations with the full knowledge of why the advice is suggested.
When the Side Effects of Cymbalta and Alcohol Worsen
Drug interactions tend to heighten the undesired side effects that each substance can cause. According to the FDA, when alcohol is mixed with Cymbalta, and their peak effects coincide, it can cause a worsening of side effects.
An article by Healthline suggests that Cymbalta’s common side effects can worsen with the use of alcohol, and these can include:
- Decreased appetite
If you experience these symptoms more intensely while combining alcohol with Cymbalta, it is a sign that your system is becoming overloaded.
When It’s Time to Seek Treatment
If you feel you need to reduce your alcohol intake or are concerned in any way about how alcohol is affecting your life, the experienced medical team at Granite Recovery Centers will help you determine the best way to reach a healthy balance. Whether you’re suffering from anxiety or depression or have developed an alcohol or substance use disorder, our individualized treatment plans can be implemented to help you recover from any type of addiction.
Granite Recovery Centers’ integrated approach treats each unique person with an individualized plan for substance or alcohol use disorders. Our therapists have a full understanding of what you are experiencing and want to help you make sobriety a reality. We are here to assist you every step of the way and know an effective protocol to treat dependence.
At Granite Recovery Centers, we gravitate toward the proven 12-step model of treatment made popular by Alcoholics Anonymous. Our evidence-based treatment program addresses any underlying mental health issues that facilitated the substance use disorder, and we address these programs head-on in both a one-on-one and in a group therapy setting.
Many people who are struggling with substance use disorder benefit from our inpatient programs where they are fully supported and can focus 24/7 on their sobriety. For those whose lives do not permit that kind of commitment, we also have an intensive outpatient program that is very successful. Finally, Granite Recovery Centers offer a uniformed professionals treatment program because we understand the intensely traumatic and stressful nature of their jobs.
The care that Granite Recovery Centers provides doesn’t stop once you’ve completed treatment. Many people who have completed inpatient or outpatient programs choose to move into one of our sober living communities, which provide distance between you and your old triggers while you rebuild your life.
We also offer a variety of aftercare programs to provide you with support once you’re back out in the real world. Our alumni program can help you build your sober support network as you connect with other people who are recovering from substance or alcohol use disorder.
Please call our center to learn more about how our medication-assisted treatment can help you reach your health goals.